Daily Archives: December 8, 2015

South American Epic: Section 9

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Day 137/164: Rest Day in Puerto Montt

I slept in until about 7:30am, rang my daughter Tracey, and made a list of the things I need to buy in Puerto Montt. I have sore legs and find it a bit difficult to sit down and stand, so will need to do a bit more walking today.

At breakfast my last remaining pair of glasses snapped in half so the first item on the list is to buy glasses.

I caught a taxi into the city and went to an enormous mall complex, 5 floors, which was a bit overwhelming as it has been nearly 5 months since I was last in anything like this. The Christmas decorations are in all the shops.  I managed to buy two pairs of reading glasses at the second optometrist shop. The first wasn’t able to understand my mime of what I wanted (not sure I would have either). I tried to mime a long arm with a book, and then mimed glasses on my head.

Then next on the list, to get some face cream from a pharmacy that is actually what I was expecting and usable. The last one must have been night cream, as it was a really thick paste. Getting face cream was made more difficult as it was on a shelf behind the counter and the shop attendant would not let me go behind the counter. We had to play guess which one I am pointing to, it took a while.

I then tried to buy some long pants but either shops here don’t have changing rooms, or my miming skills were not able to covey what I wanted.

The hub for thousands of cruise liners (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

The hub for thousands of cruise liners (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

After that I went for a walk along the water front and exchanged some Chile pesos into American dollars at a money exchange, there were a number of these on the shore front due to the number of cruise ships that come here. I am trying to build up the amount of USD I have. We are requested to give the staff a gratuity at the end of our trip and Argentina or Chilean money is not much use to them as they are also leaving the country as soon as the trip is over.  I then went back to the mall and had lunch, and went to the supermarket and then caught a taxi back to the hotel.

Waterfront Puerto Montt

Waterfront Puerto Montt

A knitted tree, and sleeping dog

A knitted tree, and sleeping dog

A pretty park bench

A pretty park bench

I spent a couple of hours trying to catch up on the blog as Kelly (blog editor) is now only one day behind the last update I have given her, and I am nearly two weeks behind again. I find it hard to do updates in the tent but I do make notes each day, otherwise the days blur together and it is hard to work out what happened when, or even what happened on a day at all (as I found when there was a four day period that I did not even make notes).

Brett and I went to the pizza place for tea but it was crammed full of TDA riders and there were no tables. Rather than go into the city we walked across the road to a seaside stall that was making empanadas and salmon ceviche (raw fish). We got a selection of the empanadas which were ok, and the salmon cervice which was fantastic.

Ship in harbour at Puerto Montt (Photo credit: Brett)

Ship in harbour at Puerto Montt (Photo credit: Brett)

Photo credit: Brett

Photo credit: Brett

Then it was the usual packing of bags etc, my laundry was returned with 3 socks that were not mine, and missing a pair of socks that were. Now down to 2 pairs of riding socks.

The next 6 days look like they are going to be challenging with lots of dirt, climbing and some bush camping. However, I would rather be doing this than going on a cruise like Nellie and Dick.

Nellie and Dick

Nellie and Dick

Monteblont porte2

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Day 136/164: Entre Lagos to Puerto Montt – 145km

1,279 meters climbing and 1,455 down – 19 km gravel

The 6th day of riding  and thankfully a rest day tomorrow. A number of riders are in the lunch truck. None of the riders who started in Santiago are riding the whole day and only two of them are riding half a day. Most of the new riders have various injuries (numb hands, sore ribs, saddle sores).

Everyone is tired and a number of us are grumbling that this section is too hard. The person who scouted this section did it in a car, and we think they looked at it as each day individually rather than the effect of the 6 days all together. Also in a car, gravel looks much more rideable.

The first 66 kilometres was pretty good riding, some nice scenery with a few hills. At about 5 kilometres out of town I saw a dog sitting on the back of a horse, then the owner came out and jumped on the horse and off they rode with the dog balancing on the back.

The cowboy dog!

The cowboy dog

At 67 kilometres we had to turn off a perfectly good paved road for a gravel road for 19 kilometres. The paved road went to the same town we are going to, in shorter distance. To add to our general joyful state, not taken into account is the time it takes to ride thick, loose gravel, and the lunch truck was not until 85 kilometres. I did not get to lunch until 1:30pm!

The gravel is like river stones, and is thick and loose, and your tyres slip and slide on it. There were a few steep climbs and descents, and despite being cautious I came around a corner and slipped on a patch of really thick, loose gravel and came off. Thankfully because I was going slowly I was a bit shaken but not hurt.

After lunch it was only 2 more kilometres of gravel, and then thankfully paved roads for the rest of the day. We rode along a lakeside after lunch for about 20 kilometres with some really steep climbs up to 18 percent. My legs were struggling and I was trying to mix up spinning and standing. I under estimated how steep one hill was when standing and pulled a muscle staying upright to the top. Hopefully it will recover quickly.

There were two hills that I just could not get up, so had to get off and walk as my legs had nothing left. I was feeling deflated as I had not thought I would have to get off on a paved road again. I felt better later talking to a couple of other full tour riders, who had also had to get off and walk up part of a couple of hills.

The rolling hills to Puerto Mortt

The rolling hills to Puerto Montt (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

I was pleased to get to the highway which was 30 kilometres before Puerto Montt as whilst I then had to contend with heaps of traffic and trucks, there were no more steep hills. There was also a good shoulder until about 5 kilometres before the city. The 5 kilometres before the city there was no shoulder at all and heavy traffic, and it was a bit scary. Going through the city there was a shared bike/pedestrian lane but it was full of pedestrians moving at snail speed taking up the whole lane so after about 5 minutes I went back onto the road.

Puerto Montt was bigger than I expected, big malls and tall buildings. The hotel we were staying at however was 5 kilometres out of town. The road was really dangerous, with no shoulder and no pavement. Not surprisingly it also had a sign “No cyclists” (yet again!), however we had no choice but to cycle along it as there did not appear to be any alternative route.

A few cars angrily tooted at us. I was pleased to get to 1 kilometre before the hotel where the main road went left and we went right to continue along the foreshore. About 500 meters before the hotel one of the riders, who had already got to the hotel and was on his way out, stopped me and said “The Wifi is hopeless, the hotel sells no food or drink, and the rooms are tiny”, so full of joy I arrived at the hotel.

Cristano greeted me with a big grin and said “Good ride”, my response was “Not really but I don’t want to talk about it now while I think I may have lost my perspective”.

It was about 5:45pm when I got to the hotel and the first thing I see on the whiteboard is “If you want your laundry to be done you have to get it to the hotel reception by 6pm”! There were a number of riders not yet in so I asked Cristiano to talk to the reception to get this timeframe extended, which thankfully they agreed to.

The rooms are small! My view is a out a grate looking at a wall, and a curtain over a window that looks out into the hotel foyer. Six of the riders were so underwhelmed by the hotel that they called taxis and went back into town and found alternative accommodation.

I had organized to meet Sue, Nellie, Dick, Jo, Nick and Brett at 6pm for dinner, but given the time and that Sue had not yet arrived (she had brake problems) we pushed the time back to 7pm. I thought “a shower is bound to cheer me up” and got into the shower, which was like a small bath with a shower above. I did not see the safety mat at the bottom of the bath which immediately slipped from beneath my feet and I fell over. Luckily I managed to grab the handrail on the way down, so only hurt my leg which is going to have large bruise.

While I was waiting to meet the others for dinner I went for a walk along the sea front to stretch my legs, and stopped at shop and got a couple of pastries and an ice block. I also watched the cruise ship that had been in the harbor when we arrived heading out of the bay. Thankfully I was in a better frame of mind when I headed back to the hotel.

Cruise ship in the harbour

Cruise ship in the harbour

We met at 7pm in the lobby and decided to go to an area about 1.5 k away, where there is a seafood restaurant and a pizza restaurant. Brian (TDA accountant who has joined the tour here, and scouted the last section) said both were really good. The seafood restaurant was the preference, but it did not open until 8.15 pm so we had a large vegetarian pizza to share and a drink in the pizza restaurant while we waited. Unfortunately the seafood restaurant was not really good at all.

The food was dry and tasteless, and Nellie and Brett’s salmon was hard and dry as it was way too over cooked, and the chips were soggy and cold. I got a seafood selection called a “Sea food garden” and it was pretty unpalatable – hard small mussels, tasteless raw fish, clams covered in cheese like mozzarella, and a small crab pie I suspect made without harm to any crabs. However, the company was good and apart from the food the evening was enjoyable. It is Nellie and Dick’s last day on the tour tomorrow’ they are heading off to do a cruise before heading home to the Netherlands.

Dinner out

Dinner out – great company, not so great food . . .

Me and my "Seafood Garden" (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Me and my “Seafood Garden” (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Dinner with Nick, Sue, & Nelli (Photo credit: Jo's Facebook page)

Dinner with Nick, Sue, & Nelli (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

We walked back to the hotel, and I once again made the mistake of patting one of the stray dogs who then immediately nominated me pack leader and followed me to the hotel. Luckily I still had one of the two pastries so was able to give him something for his trouble.

Sunset in Puerto Mortt

Sunset in Puerto Montt (Photo credit: Jo’s Facebook page)

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | 1 Comment